Iran could become capable of enriching uranium in six months and develop atomic weapons in two years if it is not stopped by the West, Military Intelligence head Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi said Tuesday.
Tehran, which has said it will suspend uranium enrichment, insists its atomic program is aimed solely at the peaceful generation of electricity, but Washington believes Iran's nuclear energy program is a front to build a bomb.
"According to estimates, Iran is not currently capable of enriching uranium to build a nuclear bomb, but it is only half a year away from achieving such independent capability - if it is not stopped by the West," Ze'evi said in a lecture at Haifa University's National Security Studies Center.
Ze'evi said if Tehran did not stop its uranium enrichment activities, Iran would develop its first atomic weapon between 2007 and 2009.
He said he is trying to impart to the Europeans the significance of the Iranian nuclear threat.
"The Iranians can reach Portugal with nuclear weapons," Ze'evi said. "This doesn't worry the Europeans. They tell me that during the Soviet regime as well they were under a nuclear threat, and I try to explain to them that Iran is a different story."
The European Union said Tuesday it will resume trade talks with Iran this week after Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, AFP reported. However, the bloc vowed to keep up pressure in areas of concern including the Islamic state's nuclear plans.
But tension remains, notably because Tehran has agreed to maintain the suspension of its uranium enrichment activities only as long as the EU trade talks continue.
Iran agreed last week to allow the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to inspect its Parchin military site, where Washington believes work linked to nuclear bomb-making was carried out.
The inspection will be part of the United Nations investigation into allegations Iran has carried out work linked to nuclear "weaponization," the process of testing or assembling a warhead and attaching it to a delivery system.
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